July 30, 2020 / 1:05 PM / 5 days ago

Six Nations to resume in October as World Rugby approves new calendar

(Reuters) - The remaining rounds of the Six Nations Championship will be played on Oct. 24 and 31 after World Rugby approved dates for the temporary 2020 COVID-19 calendar on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - England v Ireland - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - February 23, 2020 General view outside the stadium before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs/File Photo

The World Rugby Council approved an adjustment to allow the release of players for new international windows after the pandemic forced the sport’s suspension in March.

The Council approved the release of players for the window between Oct. 24 and the first weekend of December.

The final rounds of the men’s and women’s Six Nations will be followed by a rest weekend on Nov. 7 and then four consecutive rounds of international matches, World Rugby said in a statement.

This year’s Six Nations saw four matches postponed due to the pandemic.

England are top of the standings with 13 points, ahead of France on points difference. All teams have one game left to play apart from Ireland and Italy, who have two.

England also topped the women’s Six Nations standings before the tournament was suspended, with the unbeaten Red Roses one win away from a second consecutive Grand Slam.

World Rugby also approved a window from Nov. 7 to the second week of December for the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship.

The southern hemisphere’s governing body SANZAAR had confirmed New Zealand as its preferred host for the annual competition after the country virtually eliminated the coronavirus domestically.

“Special measures will need to be implemented to deal with any government-required isolation period prior to the start of the competition,” World Rugby said.

The governing body added that the rescheduling of domestic, European and international calendars would allow professional clubs to play their southern hemisphere international players when they complete the 2019-20 season.

Yet English Premiership chiefs had expressed concerns last week regarding the decision to stage test matches in November and December.

The new window would leave English top-flight clubs without their overseas players for one week of domestic matches and the opening round of the European Champions Cup as next season’s Premiership is slated to start on Nov. 20.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by John Stonestreet and Toby Davis

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